As a travel advisor, you are a salesperson. Fine tuning and enhancing your sales techniques is a critical component of your success. Truly understanding how to navigate the sales process and the steps involved will prepare you for your next phone call or client email.
The NEW CTA 10th edition program has been heavily revised, updated and enhanced to directly help you polish your sales skills, particularly in the areas of: Customer-Focused Selling, Customer Service, and Understanding Customer Needs.
And if you are closing sales, then you also should be taking payments. “The sale is not closed until you accept payment.” said Gary Pollard, CTC, CEO and President of Ambassador Tours. Truer words have not been spoken.
With the rapid growth in technology, taking a credit card number has never been easier…or has it? Understanding the payment processing universe is a complex and very important topic for all travel advisors to truly understand. To continue bringing you the most up-to-date information, the CTA 10th edition now includes the BRAND NEW Accepting and Processing Payments course.
So, today, we are giving you a quick peek into the new module:
Understanding the ins and outs of accepting and processing payments is a critical component of the sales process. Processing a payment is not as easy as it might seem. There are several components to understand and many policies to follow. Very importantly, understanding your role, responsibility, and liability in the payment universe will be crucial to your professional protection. Equally important is understanding the policies and processes you must follow according to your agency, whether it be a host agency, a brick and mortar, or your own business.
As a travel professional and seller of travel, part of your duties and responsibilities is to accept and process payments from your clients toward their desired vacation. When you do that, you have a responsibility to ensure that your clients’ payment is used solely toward the payment of their vacation or fees associated with it. You also have the responsibility of protecting your clients’ payment information while within your possession.
Like anything else in business, before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to be familiar with the lay of the land. When it comes to payment processing, there are many moving parts, terms, and regulations you need to fully understand.
Your Role and Responsibilities Throughout the Payment Process
In the travel industry, there generally are three primary roles you can fit into. Each role below comes with its own set of responsibilities and liabilities. It is critical to fully understand each one.
- Agency Owner: As the owner of your agency, you have the power to create your own payment processing policies and procedures, including having your own merchant account. In this role, if you choose to have a merchant account, your agency is the entity that is held financially liable.
- Employee with an Accredited Travel Agency: As a travel advisor working for an accredited agency, you are making travel reservations under the agency’s credentials; therefore, you must follow your company’s payment processing policies. In this role, the payment is merely passing through your hands, and you are following your agency’s policies. However, you are still responsible for verifying the legitimacy of the payment.
- Independent Contractor (IC) associated with a Host Agency: As an independent contractor, you are the owner of your own business; however, you are making reservations under a host agency’s credentials. This means you must carefully follow your host agency’s policies for processing travel payments. That being said, as an IC and a business owner, you can set specific policies on how you transact your business. If you book other segments of travel outside of your Host’s credentials, or accept payments such as service fees, you can then have your own merchant account. In this role, your agency is the entity that is held financially liable for those transactions.
Regardless of the process, or the form of payment you accept, you also are responsible for verifying the authenticity of a payment. So it is imperative that you become very familiar with the security features of cash, check, credit card, and electronic payments. Following these authentication steps will help you minimize risk and continue to offer your clients the best service possible.
Understanding your role and your responsibilities is critical. Researching the banking and local state governing regulations, along with your financial liabilities, will help you make educated business decisions. If you are selling across state lines, it is vital that you research not only your own state’s regulations but also the regulations of all the states in which you do business. Be sure to consult with your insurance, accounting, and legal expert teams, as well as with your host agency or employer, before making these decisions.
Oftentimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Investing in your education will enable you to bolster your business, protect you from liability, and increase your bottom line. Accomplish all these goals by becoming certified and enrolling in the NEW CTA course today.